Experts discuss new family violence research

Experts discuss new family violence research

In one of the largest studies of its kind, we examined more than 15,000 clients charged with breaching family violence intervention orders.

On 18 February 2016, the Honourable Martin Pakula, Attorney-General, and our Managing Director Bevan Warner launched the research report from the study. This was followed by a panel discussion with:

  • Deputy Chief Magistrate Felicity Broughton, Supervising Magistrate for Family Violence and Family Law, Magistrates’ Court of Victoria
  • Assistant Police Commissioner Dean McWhirter, Victoria Police Head of Family Violence Command
  • Jacqui Watt, No to Violence Chief Executive Officer
  • Annette Gillespie, Safe Steps Chief Executive Officer.

Listen to the highlights of their discussion, presented by Alison Caldwell, as the panel explore the significance of the research.

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Read the transcript

Read the transcript of the panel discussion (docx, 136.23 KB).


  • Bevan Warner [at 0.38 minutes]: 'We know that when perpetrators obtain legal help they are more likely to understand and to comply with a court order.'

  • Deputy Chief Magistrate Felicity Broughton [at 5.19 minutes]: 'Over a quarter of people who have been charged more than once with breaching conditions of court orders and so that information about recidivism issues is incredibly important for us and important for Victoria Police.'

  • Assistant Police Commissioner Dean McWhirter [at 6.14 minutes]: 'We just want to be careful that we don’t stigmatise lower socio-economic areas.'

  • Jacqui Watt [at 7.19 minutes]: 'I think it comes down to proper statewide systems for intaking men.'

  • Annette Gillespie [at 8.18 minutes]: 'Forty-one per cent of clients that we accommodate have [never] had an intervention order.'

  • Bevan Warner [at 10.25 minutes]: 'To achieve greater safety for victims, we must engage with perpetrators, not only to assess the risk they pose, but to help them change their behaviour.'

'Less than 4 in 10 people see a legal aid or community legal centre lawyer because of overwhelming demand.'

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Bevan Warner at 0.55 minutes

Read more

Read Bevan's full opening address: Improving Victoria’s response to family violence and our currently overburdened justice system

To read the full research report, see Characteristics of respondents charged with breach of family violence intervention orders.

About the panel members

Bevan Warner

Bevan Warner
Managing Director, Victoria Legal Aid

As a board member and Managing Director of Victoria Legal Aid since August 2008, Bevan interacts with government officials, policy makers, legal aid service providers and justice and community sector stakeholders to ensure acutely vulnerable people have access to legal advice and representation in civil, criminal and family law matters.

He is committed to using limited legal aid funds to benefit the many, not just those who receive an immediate service.

Bevan is particularly interested in the rights and outcomes of children entering the care and protection system and the impact the juvenile justice system has on the many children who transition from state care into some form of offending behaviour.

Bevan’s prior career included time as a workplace change and labour relations advocate and a five-year period as a senior executive leading the formation of Western Australia’s Indigenous Affairs agency, where he came to appreciate the many underlying causes of Indigenous disadvantage and the multiple failures of government programs to apply community development principles to address them.

Attorney General Martin Pakula

The Honourable Martin Pakula MP
Victorian State Attorney-General, Minister for Racing and MP for Keysborough

Martin joined the Victorian Labor Party in 1987 while studying economics and law at Monash University. In 1993, he joined the National Union of Workers, where he served as an industrial officer, Assistant State Secretary, State Secretary and National Vice President.

In 2006, he was elected to the Legislative Council as the member for Western Metropolitan Region. Between 2006 and 2010, Martin held the following ministerial appointments: Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Parliamentary Secretary for Roads and Ports. Following that he served as Minister for Industry and Trade, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Public Transport. In Opposition, Martin was the Shadow Attorney-General, Shadow Minister for Gaming and Racing, Shadow Minister for Corrections and Opposition Scrutiny of Government spokesperson.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Felicity Broughton

Deputy Chief Magistrate Felicity Broughton
Supervising Magistrate for Family Violence and Family Law, Magistrates’ Court of Victoria

Felicity was appointed as a Victorian magistrate in January 2000 and has been a deputy chief magistrate since 2007. She and Magistrate Kate Hawkins are currently joint supervising magistrates for the family violence and family law portfolio of the court, having been appointed in August 2011.

Felicity was Supervising Magistrate for the court’s sexual assault portfolio from 2006 to 2012 and for the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal from 2001 to 2004. She is also a member of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine’s Council and Ethics Committee and a board member of Court Network.

Assistant Commissioner Dean McWhirter

Assistant Commissioner Dean McWhirter
Head of Family Violence Command, Victoria Police

Assistant Commissioner Dean McWhirter has had a diverse career during his 35 years at Victoria Police. He has worked in various supervisory levels, including the Intelligence and Covert Support Department, Transit Safety Division and the Ethical Standards Department. Dean was also manager of the Yarra Police Service Area (Richmond, Collingwood and Fitzroy).

In 2014, Dean was appointed as the Superintendent, People Development Command and was responsible for the oversight of foundation training for police recruits and protective security officers. In March 2015, Dean was appointed as the Assistant Commissioner, Family Violence Command. This command is the first of its kind in any policing jurisdiction in Australia.

Dean has completed a Graduate Certificate Management (Public Sector) at RMIT and Masters of Leadership and Management (Policing) at Charles Sturt University.

Jacqui Watt

Jacqui Watt
Chief Executive Officer, No To Violence/Men’s Referral Service

The former CEO of two peak bodies advocating for community housing and the former Director of Client Services at Anglicare, Jacqui Watt took up her role with the No To Violence/Men’s Referral Service in February 2015.

Jacqui has experience in the fields of alcohol and drugs, mental health, disability and social housing gained over the last 30 years.

While working as a consultant, Jacqui provided strategic advice to boards, facilitated stakeholder engagement and chaired think tanks for both government and non-government organisations. While at KPMG in 2012, she facilitated the state-wide consultation of social housing tenants and housing support organisations.

With skills in change management and leadership development, Jacqui is committed to supporting people and organisations to resolve complex social issues.

She is the current Secretary of Organisation Development Australia, a member of Adult, Continuing and Further Education Council for Loddon Murray and a council member of ACSO.

Annette Gillespie

Annette Gillespie
Chief Executive Officer, safe steps Family Violence Response Centre

Annette has worked in the family violence sector at an international level for over 20 years and has extensive experience designing and leading family violence response models both in Australia and in New Zealand. With a background as a specialist family violence clinician and child trauma counsellor, Annette has many years’ experience working in and leading crisis intervention teams.

In November 2015, Annette was invited to address a special sitting of the Victorian Parliament’s Legislative Assembly to talk about gender inequality and the epidemic of family violence. It was one of the first times a lay person has addressed the Victorian Parliament.

Annette has postgraduate degrees in education, management and counselling, and tertiary degrees in sociology and feminist studies. She has held many board directorships and significant posts on advisory committees, including No To Violence and Chair of the New Zealand National Collective of Women’ Refuges.

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